Saturday, February 1, 2014

Wrestling: 'Liners have right moves to cage Cougars

HAMPTON TWP. -- Phillipsburg's wrestling team certainly has worn out its welcome in Sussex County this season.

The Stateliners once again took no prisoners with a thorough 48-16 butt kicking of Kittatinny on Friday night in an independent matchup between two of the state's Top 20 teams. Coach Dave Post's squad won 10 of 14 bouts -- including five pins -- as P'burg (11-0), ranked No. 4 by the New Jersey Wrestling Writers, tuned up for its big match against No. 10 Paulsboro on Saturday.

Combined with its 52-13 win at High Point on Jan. 18, Phillipsburg has racked up 100 points against its two Sussex County opponents.

"The kids just keep impressing us," said Post, whose club was coming off a 52-12 waxing of No. 17 Delaware Valley at The Pit on Wednesday. "Whatever you throw at them, they just keep coming. It's a credit to how hard they train."

No. 12 Kittatinny (15-2) ended a pretty nice week -- wins over Jefferson (48-21 on Monday) and Newton (52-19 on Wednesday) -- with a clunker. After getting his 500th win on Monday at home, veteran coach John Gill watched in disbelief as his Cougars were methodically and surgically taken apart on their home mat. The fourth straight loss to P'burg -- the most lopsided result since a 49-12 defeat at The Pit in 2009 -- dropped Kittatinny to 6-13 all-time in the series dating to 1994.

Making matters worse for the Cougars were losses at 126 and 132, where they'd beaten the 'Liners earlier this month at the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament. Tylor Petchonka scored a 6-4 win over Christian Silva to reverse a 12-3 loss, while Steve Friedman used a third-period takedown for a 5-3 win over Austin Scrivani, who posted a 13-6 victory in their third-place bout at HWS.

"I'm disappointed," said Gill, now 501-151-5 overall. "We lost four matches I thought we'd win. We beat two kids about 20 days ago, one was a major, and that was a seven-point swing. My seniors didn't come through. About the only positive is that this happened now and not back in December, where you forget about it. I will make sure this stays fresh in [my team's] memory. We need to show some determination and heart."

Here's a closer look at where this one was won and lost:

1. Phillipsburg beat Kittatinny at its own game by winning the battle on the mat. This wasn't a showcase from the neutral position, as the Cougars won the takedown battle, 13-9, thanks to Garrett Armstrong, who racked up seven in his wild 20-12 win over P'burg freshman Robert Melise, who nearly had what would have been a stunning first-period pin off a reversal. Melise took a 7-4 lead into the second period. A reversal in the second rideout was the difference for freshman Drew Horun in a 3-2 win over Andrew Simpson at 285. Petchonka also had two reversals -- the second with 23 seconds left -- in his win over Silva. Friedman employed sound strategy by keeping his bout with Scrivani on their feet, racking up two takedowns and immediately issuing escapes after each. Scrivani is a very dangerous mat wrestler. Three of the 'Liners' pins totaled just 1:12, while the other two were in the first period.

2. It's always easy to second-guess after the fact, but it was puzzling to me to see Kittatinny not have senior Dylan Wunder weighed in at 170, where the match just happened to start. And it certainly backfired with moving him up to 195 to wrestle Joe Maso, who won a 3-2 decision. Maso has a win over High Point's Bobby McDonnell this season and hung with Kyle Stoll in a 3-2 loss at HWS. Beware of bumping up to face better wrestlers. With Wunder and Kieran Gerrity at 170, it would have allowed the Cougars to match up Wunder with Broderick Bupivi at 170 and Gerrity against Jake Kocsis at 182. Gerrity, who dropped a 5-3 decision to Kocsis at HWS, beat Bupivi, 5-2, in this one. The Kittatinny coaches obviously were not sold that Wunder beats Bupivi. With Kocsis up, Gill opted to send out reserve Luke DeGroat, who was decked in 38 seconds. Hindsight there would have been to simply forfeit and not give momentum away early in the match, but that's just not Gill's style. The only reason Gill forfeited to Brandon Paetzell at 106 is because the Cougars had no one available with Taylor Molfetto on the shelf due to a thumb injury. Gill also went with Simpson and sat Tom Smith at 285, despite Smith's 50-pound weight advantage on Horun.

3. Maso (14-6) really got the ball rolling with his win over Wunder (21-8), a District 3 runner-up, at 195. Since a tough 4-1 loss in overtime in P'burg's win over Easton (Pa.), the junior has really stepped it up. The win over Wunder gave the 'Liners a 9-3 lead after three bouts and all but ended Kittatinny's bid for an upset. "I just went out and wrestled my match," said Maso, a District 1 runner-up last season. "I knew [Wunder] was having a good season. I was just taking it as any other match. We knew they were favored in a lot of the upper weights."  If Melise could have pulled off the upset at 220, the raucous P'burg crowd would have gone crazy. As it was, Kittatinny athletic director Chris Carroll had to squash an ugly scene early on with some back-and-forth from both sides after Gerrity's win at 170.

4. It's clear that Phillipsburg is plenty battle tested behind a rugged dual meet schedule and participating in some top-level tournaments. But credit Post and his stellar coaching staff, including assistants Scott Silvis, Josh Haines, Brad Gentzle and Bryan Kopesky, for bringing some of the younger wrestlers a long way. Take sophomore Tyler Agans (8-11) at 113, who is looking better each time out, and DJ Wissing, who gave talented Kittatinny sophomore Nick Klinger all he could handle in an 8-5 loss at 120. Wissing (16-9) got the opening takedown and trailed just 6-5 in the third period before giving up a takedown with 18 seconds left in the bout. "There were a few matches [earlier this season] where we didn't wrestle our best and we still won some big matches," Maso said.

5. Both of these teams seem to be heading in opposite directions with sectionals just over a week away. P'burg is a heavy favorite to claim the North 2, Group 4 title, while Kittatinny is almost a lock for the North 1, Group 1 championship. The 'Liners must first take care of business against Paulsboro, Voorhees and South Plainfield to close out the regular season, while the Cougars can wrap up the NJAC Freedom Division title against Hackettstown on Wednesday. That match may be moved to Friday depending upon the Sussex school's schedule for HWS basketball. Additionally, Kittatinny may travel to No. 8 Brick Memorial next Saturday, as the Mustangs called this week to schedule a match. Kittatinny is now 4-5 at home in the series with P'burg and 2-8 at The Pit. "I can't even blame The Pit, this was in our own gym," Gill said. "We didn't step up. We just haven't scored in the big matches."


170 -- Sr. Kieran Gerrity (26-3), K, d. Sr. Broderick Bupivi (17-9), 5-2.
182 -- Sr. Jake Kocsis (24-2), P, p. So. Luke DeGroat (2-1), :38.
195 -- Jr. Joe Maso (14-6), P, d. Sr. Dylan Wunder (21-8), 3-2.
220 -- Sr. Garrett Armstrong (24-5), K, md. Fr. Robert Melise (1-2), 20-12
285 -- Fr. Drew Horun (15-6), P, d. Sr. Andrew Simpson (20-8), 3-2 OT3.
106 -- So. Brandon Paetzell (23-1), P, forfeit.
113 -- So. Tyler Agans (8-11), P, p. Fr. Kasey Hotz (16-11), 1:10.
120 -- So. Nick Klinger (25-4), K, d. So. DJ Wissing (16-9), 8-5.
126 -- Sr. Tylor Petchonka (10-10), P, d. Sr. Christian Silva (18-11), 6-4.
132 -- Jr. Steve Friedman (12-10), P, d. So. Austin Scrivani (22-6), 5-3.
138 -- Jr. Corey Zinsmeister (16-5), P, p. Sr. Nick West (10-14), :16.
145 -- Jr. Jimmy Schuitema (17-3), P, p. Jr. Trevor Schutte (0-9), :58.
152 -- Sr. Nick Romyns (15-3), K, forfeit.
160 -- Jr. Max Elling (22-4), P, p. Sr. Tyler Parkyn (5-15), 1:59.
Records -- Phillipsburg 11-0; Kittatinny 15-2.
Officials -- Gary Kessel and Gary Szucs.

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